East Tennessee State University officially turned 100 Sunday, but Monday the public is invited to campus to mark the centennial with a ceremony and musical performance.
The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. in the ETSU/Mountain States Health Alliance Athletics Center. It will include remarks by university officials, reflections on the centennial, the presentation of student choice awards to faculty and staff, and recognition of the oldest living person in the world, Besse Brown Cooper, who graduated from ETSU when it was a normal school, said Susan Epps, an associate professor in allied health and who helped organize centennial events this past year.
“It’s going to be awesome,” Epps said of the celebration.
She said the showpiece of Monday’s ceremony will be “Mountain Memories,” a special musical piece commissioned specifically for the centennial.
“Mountain Memories” was first performed in October 2010. The music tells the story of this region and the school through the art of Northeast Tennessee, according to the school. The piece was composed by Michael Davis, of Washington, D.C.
“The music, we’re just so excited about it,” Epps said.
Performing “Mountain Memories” will the ETSU Wind Ensemble, ETSU Chorale and the ETSU Bluegrass Band.
Cooper, the world’s oldest living person at 115 and a 1916 graduate of what was East Tennessee State Normal School, went on to teach in rural parts of this region upon finishing the two-year program.
“She has several family members who will be there,” Epps said.
Also in attendance Monday will be Adelaide Smith, a cousin of George L. Carter, who in 1910 donated the land on which ETSU is located.
Richard G. Pumphrey, a sculptor who created a portrait bust of Carter that is now on display on campus, also will be recognized.
At 7 p.m. Monday, the school will seal away the centennial time capsule in a brick column at the Amphitheatre. Two students will carry the capsule to the brick column, where it will remain until the school’s sesquicentennial in 2061.
The university formed a committee to plan out events to celebrate 100 years of ETSU, including Monday’s event. Various activities occurred throughout the past year in honor of this milestone anniversary.
“Everybody worked incredibly hard,” Epps said of the committee. “So much went on behind the scenes that I don’t think the public would even be aware of.
“We didn’t do it for recognition. We did it because we love ETSU.”
The next major anniversary milestone for ETSU will be the 150th anniversary. Epps pointed out it is likely many people who helped plan the centennial activities will not be around for the sesquicentennial.
“Most of us who are on the committee, except for the students, probably won’t be around for the 150th,” Epps said. “And to be invited to be on the centennial committee was a huge honor.
“It’s pretty humbling, as well,” she said. “You think, we started with 29 students and now we’re over 15,000 in just 100 years. It’s incredible.”
The public is invited and encouraged to attend ETSU’s centennial celebration.